Telephone interviews often are used as an initial candidate screening method. Typically, candidates who pass the phone interview portion are offered a face-to-face interview.
There are a number of reasons why employers like to conduct phone interviews before bringing candidates into the office based on different things interviewers might be looking for.
1. Fill in missing information or clarify details.
Hopefully, you've put together a well-organized, consistent resume that tells a prospective employer exactly what kind of experience you have, where you worked and when. If the hiring manager thinks you might be a good fit but certain elements are missing and he or she is having trouble gleaning some specific information from your resume, they may call you to give you a chance to explain.
2. Determine whether you have the right qualifications.
Particularly in technical interviews, an employer may ask specific questions to give you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge of a certain area or ask you to provide examples of certain situations and how you handled them. They also may present a technical problem and ask you to take them through the process of solving it. These questions help them determine whether you are capable of performing the job and working through a problem in a logical way.
3. Find out how interested you are in the position.
With so many resumes coming in for one position, an employer doesn't want to invite a candidate to a face-to-face interview when that person really isn't that excited about the position in the first place. Any questions regarding potential start dates will help provide clues as to how eager you are to take on the position, and general enthusiasm about the position throughout the interview also will help show the employer that you're genuinely interested in the opportunity.
4. Assess how good of a communicator you are.
The communication abilities confirmed through a phone interview are on a basic level. An employer would like to know how well you can talk about your previous job experiences, how well you listen and respond to specific questions, and how well you can come up with good questions to ask the interviewer.
5. Decide if they can afford you.
Employers don't want to take candidates through a full-blown interview process only to discover that the person they're interested in hiring has much higher salary expectations than what the employer is willing or able to offer.
During the phone interview, the interviewer will sometimes ask about your salary history to get a sense of how much you may be expecting to earn, or they may mention a specific salary or a salary range, and then ask if that's something you're willing to accept. This gives you a chance to decide, on the spot, whether you're truly interested in pursuing the opportunity any further.
6. Figure out how well you would fit within the company.
Employers are looking for people with the right technical skills, but they often are also seeking a particular personality type since they know what kind of person will thrive in the environment they already have set up. Questions related to preferences in one's work environment and how a candidate would relate to one's peers will help narrow down the list of applicants.
At the end of the day, a phone interview is equally beneficial to the interviewer and to you. It allows you to determine if the position is a good fit and if it is something you’d like to pursue.